Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fighting Windmills

Choosing to make handmade tableware is quixotic in this age of mass production.

I believe the networks initiated through handmade things are essential to human communication.  The act of sitting to eat or drink creates many little spaces within a day where there is possibility for small acts of communication between object and user.  The intimacy of the interaction between the tools and the tool wielder is an intense private moment and more reciprocal than the we, the tool user imagines. Tools are working on us before we even touch them.

Take the teacup for example. Even the most unappealing collection of the "World's Best Dad" and supermarket cups in a melamine staff room cupboard alters our behaviour.  As you reach for the "World's Best Dad" mug the handle dictates where you must pick it up from.  The fact that very soon this clean cup is going to be in contact with your lips means that conventionally we never pick up a cup by it's rim.  Already this inanimate object has changed out behaviour.  The network of cultural and historical meanings embedded in a teacup has made us, the top predator, the tool maker react.

The physicality of physical objects catches you up in their meanings.  Bill Brown (Thing Theory) talks about looking through objects to see their myriad layers of meaning.  I prefer to think of it as looking into objects, as you look into them the more meaning unfolds, the historical, social and cultural threads and complex , textured world of interpersonal communication.   the unfolding of material function is haptic,  communication through touch.  By time the user is engaged with a handmade pot, their bodies are in intimate contact with it  and a circuit is established  with signs and meanings zooming back and forth between maker and user.  The functionality of the  handmade pots serves as a medium for communication.
Shannon Garson- porcelain rock pool teacup